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Trial begins for father accused of killing children in Rancho Bernardo fire

Posted at 5:48 PM, Sep 04, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-04 20:48:44-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Opening statements started Wednesday in the trial of a father accused of killing his two children in a fire at his Rancho Bernardo condo in 2017.

Investigators said Henry Lopez passed out drunk with a lit cigarette, starting a fire that spread to the rest of the home. His children, 10-year-old Cristos and 7-year-old Isabella, died as a result of smoke inhalation. Lopez was also hospitalized with burns.

Lopez’ ex-wife Nikia testified at his preliminary hearing in February 2018, saying the couple was in the custody of a divorce. Nikia Lopez also said her ex-spouse was an abusive alcoholic.

RELATED: Mother opens up about children killed in fire

"He drank a lot. My goal was to keep it from the kids. I would wake up in the middle of the night and throw away the bottles in the trash. I would pull him upstairs before the kids woke in the morning... sometimes I would have to clean up his throw up,” Nikia Lopez said in earlier testimony.

Lopez faces up to 14 years in prison for several felony counts including involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment.